Story developers John Knoll and Gary Whitta gave director Garreth Edwards something only George Lucas experienced throughout this series; creative freedom. Rogue One nearly had new characters to handle a dire mission with little limitations and Edwards succeeded. With characters like Galen, Lyra, and Jyn Erso; Orson Krennic; Cassian Andor; K - 2SO; Chirret Imwe; Baze Malbus; and Saw Geerera, Edwards showed both his creativity to the standalone film and its characters and his limitations to the greater story.
There were three things about Star Wars that were constant. The opening lines, the words "May the Force be with ______ (you or us)", and the line "I've got a bad feeling about this." To finally highlight the creativity Edwards had in Rogue One was he bucked two of those three constants and still made a good film.
The diverse characters coalesced on a single mission that affected them in different ways. This group of swashbucklers was united not by choice but by duty. Loyalty to each other, the greater cause, and/or family served as their motivation. And for the film's purpose, it worked.
What also worked was the lack of big names to play the roles. Sure, Forrest Whitaker and Jimmy Smits were involved but they played small roles and Felicity Jones is on the rise to stardom but she was not the film's main attraction. The ongoing question was "how did it fit with the larger story?" and to that, Jones' role was significant. For without Jyn Erso, the Rebel cause was in vain.
There were parts that were bothersome but those were limited. Why give way to nostalgia and foolishness? They made little sense but the positive was there were not many of them.
What we finally witnessed was the vengeance and power of Darth Vader. It was always hinted in the original films and the prequels never fully displayed it, but in a short, telling scene, the forcefulness of Darth Vader was completely shown. It truly was amazing to see why he was feared and respected.
All in all, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story was a good film with spectacular and meaningful action. Very little scenes and aspects felt forced (due to the film's place in the saga) and that spoke to Edwards' directing strength. The little-known cast pulled off a great performance and Rogue One fit well in its place in the Star Wars story.